Demolition drives to begin from July
The Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) has started a survey under a project, titled 'Canal re-excavation, extension, renovation, and development to address waterlogging in Chittagong city'.
As part of the project, 13 canals have already been assessed, while inspections of the remaining 23 are underway.
As per the survey, 123 acres of 13 major canals in the port city have been occupied over the years. More than 1,500 illegal structures have sprung up illegally on the canals that are obstructing the free flow of stormwater, causing waterlogging.
According to Chittagong Development Authority (CDA), the illegal structures include concrete buildings, shanties, tin-roofed houses, graveyards, and crematoriums.
The CDA, along with the Bangladesh Army, is going to conduct a drive to remove all the illegal structures from next month.
Ahmed Moinuddin, CDA executive engineer and project director, said that all the illegal structures on the canals would be demolished in phases.
"1,576 illegal structures on 13 canals have already been identified. Initially, 866 structures will be demolished to ensure free water flow, while 710 establishments will be bulldozed to construct roads beside the canals," he said.
Saying that demolition drives against illegal structures on the canals is long overdue, architect Zarina Hossain, secretary of Forum for Planned Chittagong, said: "Water-logging has turned out to be a lasting problem for the city. Canals, which held rainwater, are disappearing fast in the city.
“Due to negligence by the authorities concerned, the illegal structures sprang up over the years on the canals."
Ali Ashraf, city planner and former chairman of the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh, Chittagong, said that there is no alternative to restoring the canals to increase their retention capacity and ensure the free flow of rainwater.
"With removal of the illegal structures, the water retention capacity of the canals will increase and eventually, the longstanding water-logging problem will be resolved," said Ashraf.
There are 57 recorded canals in the city, home to six million people.
Around one-third of Chittagong goes under water during the monsoon every year, while the southern part of the coastal city gets flooded during high tides, even without rain.